Escaping from reality is on all of our minds these days. So we in the northeast are super lucky to be able to hop on a plane and in less than two hours emerge in a warm, sunny climate full of southern hospitality, charming scenery and outstanding food around every corner. To reset our cabin fevered brains and get one last gasp of summer, two seasoned travel advisors and great friends traveled to South Carolina where we found, to our great delight, that there is indeed life outside our own homes!
I’m going to deviate from my usual format of free-form narration in this entry, rather, you’re getting an inside peek at the “trip report” my colleague and I put together to share with the rest of our advisors. Report Collaboration and Photo Credits: Rebecca Alesia and Mauricio Buenaventura, Smartflyer
Duration: 7 days, 6 nights
We Love it For: Couples, Families, Mother/Daughter or Bachelorette getaways, Bachelor/Gentlemen’s parties, Golf Groups
Trip Style: Relaxation, sightseeing, golf and culinary
Agent Notes: From the beach to the links to charming mansions, Low Country has a LOT to offer!
1. Sunset views on the beaches of Hilton Head and Kiawah
2. Discovering the hidden secrets of Savannah’s many squares on a city tour
3. Play like the Pros at Kiawah
4. Exploring the Gastronomy and Craft Brewery Scene in Charleston
Rolling into Town in Style
Touch down in Savannah and pick up your rental car – a convertible isn’t strictly mandatory, but absolutely encouraged! Especially coming out of the cold rain of the northeast fall, we were so happy to let that southern sun warm our arms and shoulders! A short drive to Hilton Head Island, where you enter Sea Pines island and smile at the kids riding bikes all around you. After checking into your room overlooking the impeccably groomed links; freshen up and head down to the beach for a sunset cocktail and dinner under the stars.
A Resort for All Seasons
Spend your day enjoying all Sea Pines has to offer – stroll the marina and harbor, lounge on their private stretch of beach and wiggle your toes in the sand, get out and golf on one of their three exemplary courses or spend the afternoon playing tennis, biking, kayaking or horseback riding! This resort offers a Virtuoso Inn with a pool, Condo-style set up apartments, Villas, and Homes in countless different sizes, locations and configurations so there’s an option for any travel party to stay comfortably.
After enjoying a bakery breakfast at the local sweet shop on Hilton Head, ease the convertible back on the road and into Savannah. A guided tour is a great way to get a feel for any city, and this one is no exception. Some favored sites included the park bench where Forrest told the world that “life is like a box of chocolates,” and the original home Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction used as a model, as well as the many historic square parks with inviting shade under centennial trees around homes which are all historic architectural gems. A great way to spend the afternoon is strolling along the riverfront with quaint stores and waterfront places for dessert, shopping and hanging out. A lunch at Vic’s is a must do!
From Savannah you’ll continue on to Kiawah Island. This sweeping island resort offers a variety of residences (beachfront and waterfront houses widely available due to the many inlets, and villas of two, three, four and more bedrooms in private communities, as well as a The Sanctuary at Kiawah, a Virtuoso five star hotel. Not to mention some of the best golf the east coast has to offer. Kiawah Island Resort offers 14 dining outlets so options abound to taste local southern cuisine, more continental fare as well as traditional country club style meals without even stepping out of the gates of the Resort.
Make sure to take time on the way to stop and see the world famous Angel Oak – this massive tree has a branch span of about 160 feet, and is estimated at almost 500 years old. There is something undoubtedly magical about stepping under its vast canopy.
Fore! Or in the alternative, FOUR hours in the spa 😉
Today you can start with a great round of golf in one of the magnificent 5 courses. The Ocean Course is home to the 2021 PGA Championship and the most coveted by visitors for its sweeping views bordering the Atlantic Ocean. If you are not a golfer, you can might instead choose to luxuriate at the Spa, offered at The Sanctuary hotel, where multiple treatments are on offer in a serene but modern setting.
Onwards would be great to have No stay on Kiawah Island would be complete without experiencing lunch at the beautiful Ryder Cup Bar which offers panoramic golf course and ocean views. The afternoon could be used to stroll or bike around the resort or spend at the expansive stretch of powdery sand beach that goes for miles.
Avid golfers and spa-goers alike will delight in meeting at the “19th hole” at one of many bars around the island enjoy magical sunset views and craft cocktails after a relaxing day.
Onward to Charleston!
Welcome to Charleston – the Holy City (so named for the myriad churches and steeples visible across the sky line – but to us it was more like – HOLY MOLY is the food here amazing!
The beautiful thing about Charleston is that there is a hotel for every personality type – and they all have tremendous history. From the Wentworth Mansion and Zero George – both five star experiences with every modern convenience lovingly retrofit into homes built in the 1800s to the Belmond Charleston Place, which was the the first luxury resort built in the city to the newer additions of the Bennett, the Dewberry and Emiline which are modern in decor and are more lifestyle hotels with bars and rooftops.
Fortunately this city is completely pedestrian friendly, so a great way to find your bearings is a guided walking tour, offered by many companies arranged by your helpful hotel concierge. These entertaining and lively tours will highlight the main streets and attractions, while giving you a perspective and sense of history and culture that surrounds this incredible city
Want to live it like the locals do? Enjoy a stroll on historic King Street which traverses the city with great authentic, locally owned shops (as well as some popular brand names) as well as trendy restaurants and bars in the heart of the city center. This is a great spot to choose one of the various traditional southern fare spots for an amazing lunch.
After this you can head to the Charleston City Market, which stretches 4 city blocks full of arts and crafts, opportunities for all important souvenir shopping and a surrounding vibrant neighborhood.
With all of the days purchases in hand, head to one of the great rooftop bars/restaurants to round up the day. The rooftop at The Dewberry has all the cool vibes at this time – and your travel advisor has the inner connection to get you one of their coveted reservations at sunset.
If interested in a nighttime activity, you could take one of the Ghost Tours that visit mansions and locations that are famous for being haunted, or return to King Street for the nightlife – jazz clubs, spiked slushee pop ups and a rollicking energy make this the place to be.
To get the blood going in the morning you can gear up with sneakers and comfortable clothes and head to the Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge, a spectacular cable-stayed 2.5 mile bridge with an impeccable walking and biking path that provides the best views of all of Charleston – river, ocean, Naval bases and beyond. After the walk, reward yourself by heading to Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits, which offers a wide variety of delicious breakfast (and all day) meal options .
Chill Now might be a great time to chill at your hotel – many of the resorts in Charlestons have fantastic pools, and with weather in the 80s well into November, it’s a great perk! After relaxing for a bit to catch your breath, get ready for a late lunch at Leon’s Poultry and Oyster Shop, the place for some of the best fried chicken and every variation of oyster imaginable in an authentic lively set up. A boozy afternoon can always start with their frozen gin tonic or frose as well as their extensive beer list.
With a full belly you can now proceed to enjoy the wonderful Craft Brewery scene that Charleston has to offer. You can design your own tour (at least 6 breweries are walking distance) or let an organized company like Charleston Brews Cruise haul you around in a vehicle to the best breweries in town. The piece de resistance – ending your day at Revelry Brewery to catch Sunset at their hopping rooftop terrace with great selection on tap and friendly staff.
Back to King Street to your hotel and maybe a farm to table meal one of several James Beard-award winning restaurants around the area. Your concierge can provide recommendations from the most down home casual to elevated fine dining.
All good things must come to an end – we recommend a strong coffee and french pastry at the Bennett Hotel, to fortify yourself for the fifteen minute car ride to the airport where you’ll head home with your heart full of wonderful memories, your body full of incredible food and an short flight to return from having experienced a whole different world just 2 hours away from your home in the Northeast.